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Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Welcomes Back Alumna Violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn


Elizabeth PitcairnLooking for something amazing to do on Valentine’s Day? How about a night of unforgettable music? 

Elizabeth Pitcairn, famed violinist and Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) alumna, shows her love for Philly during the PYO’s 70th anniversary in a special Valentine’s Day concert, which kicks off a three-concert series in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. 

Led by Maestro Louis Scaglione, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra will perform Strauss’s light-hearted Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche and Dvorak’s romantic Symphony No. 7.  The concert’s centerpiece will feature Pitcairn accompanied by Philadelphia Youth Orchestra in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.  Pitcairn famously plays the real-life instrument that is said to have inspired the 1999 Academy Award-winning film The Red Violin. 

Antonio Stradivari, who lovingly made his instruments in his small shop in Cremona, Italy centuries ago, crafted the historic violin in 1720 and he remains the most famous violinmaker of all time. The violin went missing for over 200 years, it’s disappearance pondered by many. Canadian filmmaker Francois Girard imaginative speculations became the narrative for The Red Violin. The 1720 "Red” Stradivarius would eventually surface during the 1930s in Berlin. 

After varied ownerships, the Red Violin was placed on the auction block anonymously at Christie's of London in 1990, on Thanksgiving Day. It landed in the hands of a then sixteen-year-old American solo violinist, Elizabeth Pitcairn, while she was concertmaster for Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. Pitcairn would remain silent about owning the violin until her rigorous training brought her into the public eye on international stages. 

Much of its original burnished red varnish remains on the violin today, and it is thought to be one of the best sounding and most beautiful of Stradivari’s remaining violins. Pitcairn and her violin make a wonderful team. “I’m always moved by the history of my violin. So many people have played with this violin- the souls of others is brought alive in the music I play. We’re all connected,” Pitcairn ascertains. 

“Elizabeth has always been a wonderful friend to the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and the students are extremely excited for the chance to perform with her,” said Louis Scaglione, President and Music Director of Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. “We’re overjoyed with the success Elizabeth has achieved and proud that she is a PYO alumna.” 

Elizabeth began playing violin at the age of three, and developed her love for classical music as a student of Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. She is just one of many stellar musicians who have graduated from the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra program; alumni serve in nearly all of the nation's top 20 orchestras. 

”Some of my fondest memories playing music took place with Philadelphia Youth Orchestra,” said Elizabeth Pitcairn. “I’m a lucky girl to be sharing Valentine’s Day with so many others who love music.” 

Louis Scaglione At the age of 14, Pitcairn joined the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra as a violinist. The daughter of a cello teacher, she and her brother both performed in PYO, where she later became co-concertmaster. She remembers many weekends of her four years of high school practicing and the joy of performing. “I can remember going on family vacations and staying inside to practice instead of swimming,” Pitcairn continued. “My hard work paid off in the end, though.” 

Today, Pitcairn happily finds a balance in her life. Pitcairn has come to view the violin as her life's most inspiring mentor and friend, making beautiful music and bringing the violin alive. 

Admission is $16-30 and subject to change. For more information, please call 215-893-1999 or visit www.pyos.org. To learn about Elizabeth Pitcairn and her upcoming concert, go to theredviolin.net. 

Check out Elizabeth’s upcoming performance on Good Day Philadelphia on Friday, February 12 at 9:45 a.m.! 


About Philadelphia Youth Orchestra

Originally founded in 1939 as the Germantown Youth Orchestra, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) is internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s foremost youth music programs.  Proudly, PYO alumni serve in nearly all of the nation’s top 20 professional orchestras.  Under the direction of Maestro Louis Scaglione, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra includes more than 300 young musicians in seven ensembles: its namesake, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra; Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO); Musicopia String Orchestra; two sections of Bravo Bass; and two sections of Philadelphia Regional Youth String Music (PRYSM). To learn more about Philadelphia Youth Orchestra or view the full schedule of concerts, please visit www.pyos.org. 

Photo credit of the PYO: Mark Garvin / Mark Garvin Photography

Photo credit of Elizabeth Pitcairn: Christian Steiner


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